Barbara Lane correspondence with German architects (1955-1982)
Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Barbara Miller Lane, a graduate of the University of Chicago and Barnard College, and a PhD in history from Harvard University, came to Bryn Mawr in the fall of 1962 to teach history. The recipient of more than a dozen major grants and fellowships throughout her career, Lane has been a visiting professor at the Columbia University School of Architecture, a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington DC, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin, and a member of the "City Forum", an advisory group on planning Berlin after German unification. In 1971, she helped to found the Growth and Structure of Cities Program, and served as its director from 1971-1989, and again in 1996-97. Within the Cities Program, she introduced courses in the history of urban form and the history of modern architecture.
Her books include Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918-1945 (Harvard University Press, 1968, revised edition 1985, Italian edition 1973, German edition 1986), which is considered the classic work on German architecture and planning in the early twentieth century; a compilation on Nazi Ideology Before 1933 (ed., with Leila Rupp, University of Texas Press, 1978), and National Romanticism and Modern Architecture in Germany and the Scandinavian Countries (Cambridge University Press, 2000). Shorter publications deal with subjects such as political symbolism in 19th- and 20th-century public buildings, the late 19th-century streetscape, Expressionism and modern architecture, architecture and planning in 20th-century Berlin, and the career and significance of Albert Speer. Other research interests include the evolution of American and European domestic architecture, the development of Swedish design theory from the 1890s through the 1930s, the history of city planning in the later 20th century, and methods of research in architectural history.
Since her retirement from full-time teaching in 1999, she has returned to Bryn Mawr College to teach advanced undergraduate and graduate seminars on such subjects as "Medievalism and Modern Architecture," "The Bauhaus and Weimar Culture," and "Housing and Dwelling: Perspectives on Modern Domestic Architecture."
The collection consists of letters between Barbara Lane and various German architects written while she was researching her study on politics and architecture in Germany between the World Wars. The study, Architecture and Politics in Germany 1918-1945, was published by the Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., in 1968.
This correspondence includes letters written by Barbara Lane to architects who worked in Germany between the wars requesting information on her area of interest, as well as many of their replies. In some cases the correspondence between Lane and an architect includes as many as six letters. Many of the architects discuss their difficulties constructing modern building after the Nazis came to power and the ways in which architecture was monitored by the government. The architects with whom Lane corresponded include Fritz Breuhaus de Groot, Richard Döcker, Johannes Göderitz, Erwin Redslob, and Paul Schmitthenner.
There are also a number of letters to Lane from Walter Gropius, whose archives she used several times while researching her book. As well as allowing Lane the use of his archives, Gropius read a draft of her completed manuscript and sent her his notes and opinions. His "Notes on Mrs. Lane's Manuscript" are enclosed in his letter of 19 July, 1966.
A second group of letters deals with Lane's donation of her research correspondence to the Bryn Mawr Library. There is also a letter from Albert Speer, thanking Lane for a copy of her book and offering her a relevant portion of his own memoirs.
The collection consists of two groups of correspondence. The greatest part is made up of Lane's requests for information and the responses to her letters. These are organized alphabetically by correspondent. The second group is a small number of letters concerning Lane's donation of these letters to the library.
Gift of Barbara Lane.
- Bryn Mawr College
- Finding Aid Author
- Melody Brandston, Leo Dolenski, Melissa Torquato
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
The Barbara Lane correspondence with German architects (1955-1982) is the physical property of the Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.
1p. Content: Is busy and unable to take the time to discuss his past, but hopes that others will be able to help.
1p. Content: His school was shut down by Nazis after he refused to undertake a commission from the state. It was difficult to build private houses because construction authorizations were discontinued for lack of materials.
1 p. Content: Repeats that in theory he could build private houses as he wished, but in reality the available materials were held back for war-related construction.
1p. Content: Gives Lane the names and addresses of architects who worked in 1919-1933 who were still living.
1p. Content: Says it was difficult to get permission to build modern architecture, not for political reasons, but because of a general trend towards conservatism.
1p. Content: Reiterates that there was opposition to modern buildings, but that the opposition did not come directly from political parties.
1p. Content: Is sending material to be photocopied by B.L. after previous material was stolen.
2p. Content: Informs Lane that her father, Martin Elsaesser, has died and adds that until 1929, there were no restrictions placed on his work. After that, the Nazis put a stop to the building of modern architecture, and Elsaesser was able to get little work.
1p. Content: His father, Paul Emmerich, to whom Lane had written, died a year and a half ago. His memory does not reach as far back, but he knows that while the influence of the authorities became stronger after 1933, the full extent of the changes did not become clear until 1936.
1p. Content: Says that Nazis fought against "functional" architecture, but not as much as they fought against modern painting and sculpture.
2p. Content: Says his work was much admired until the Nazis came to power in 1933 and demanded his dismissal from the municipal building council.
1p. Content: Thinks Lane's manuscript is "carefully done and to the point", but disagrees with her interpretation of the Bauhaus approach.
1p. Content: He has just returned from Cuba and asks Lane to call and make an appointment to visit him at the beginning of March.
1p. Content: He has just returned from Baghdad. He would be happy to let Lane look at his archives as soon as a German scholar who has been using them sends back the things he borrowed.
1p. Content: Informs Lane that the missing volumes from his archive have been returned.
1p. Content: Has just returned from a trip. Asks Lane to call Mrs. Gropius to make an appointment to look into his archives again.
1p. Content: Discusses Lane's use of his archive and the possibility that he will have parts of it microfilmed.
1p. Content: Has just returned from a trip to Europe. Lane is welcome to come look at his archives again.
1p. Content: Praises Lane's manuscript and loans her a paper which may interest her. Enclosed is a three page typescript of Gropius' own notes and comments on Barbara Lane's manuscript.
1p. Content: Discusses the use of brick in the Fagus factory and in other buildings.
2p. Content: During the time period Lane is interested in, he built only in the private sector. Modern architecture in the style of the Bauhaus was avoided by the authorities.
1p. Personally felt no interference in his creative processes, but after intervening on behalf of Jewish colleagues, he was "removed from [his] duties as politically unsafe."
1p. Content: He "was not hindered in the excercise of [his] profession", but he knows there were some of his colleagues "with whom things went badly, which especially among Jewish colleagues resulted in their being forbidden to practice their profession."
1p. Content: He was a part of the group that first used modern building ideas after WWI. After 1933, his buildings were considered "degenerate art".
1p. Content: The Wiemar government supported functionalism, but Hitler fancied himself an architect, and had his own style, which was copied by many architects. However, Hitler did not interfere with March's building for the 1936 Olympics. The new highway system was another piece of good design carried out under Hitler.
1p. Content: He is leaving in his apartment a briefcase full of material for her to examine
2p. Content: Microfilms of materials that Lane had obtained from May were stolen in London. She asked if he would be willing to have the items microfilmed again. Enclosed is a sheet of instructions to be sent to a microfilming company in Steinstrasse.
2p. Content: Had no trouble building "examples of a new spirit of objective industrial architecture" before 1935. Later there were often objections to modern architecture, but not always.
1p. Content: Plans to meet Lane when she comes to Aachen.
1p. Content: His books featuring illustrations of works by Jewish architects were not allowed to appear after 1930.
2p. Content: The Wiemar Republic was supportive of modern architecture, and Nazis seldom served on the committees dealing with the arts.
1p. Content: "Historical architecture" was a national-socialist tendency, but other groups created this kind of influence long before 1933.
1p. Content: There was no serious objection to modern architecture until 1933, when Rühl was pensioned off for political reasons.
1p. Content: He built according to his views after 1933 just as before, which may have been why he was given no party comissions.
1p. Content: Awaits word from Lane about a visit from her in March or May.
1p. Content: Arrangements made for a visit from Lane on July 1, 1960.
3p. Content: "Political influence on construction was greater in the time between 1933 and the beginning of the war than in the time from 1919 to 1933." He gives examples.
1p. Content: Having never been in the National-Socialist party, Schweizer recieved no building commissions from 1933 to 1945, and he was not allowed to take up the teaching position he had been meant to have.
1p. Content: Thanks Lane for her book and sends parts of his memoir that he thinks will be of interest.
2p. Content: In 1937 "the Architect Speer" was named general building inspector for the region of Berlin, and all important projects had to be approved by him. Later, other regions were given similar inspectors, which allowed the Nazi party more control over architecture.
Dolenski, Leo to Hahn, Peter, 1p. Enclosed is a four-page inventory of letters received by Barbara Lane
Hahn, Peter to Dolenski, Leo , 1p.
Dolenski, Leo to Lane, Barbara, 2p.
Dolenski, Leo to Hahn, Peter, 1p.